Cotswolds Distillery has secured a nation-wide listing in Waitrose & Partners for its whisky.
Released in exactly a year ago, the Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky has already accumulated an impressive nine medals and awards in its first 12 months. Each bottle lists the barley variety, harvest year and local Cotswolds farm it was grown on.
Described as a rich and fruity single malt, it has been aged in a combination of first-fill ex-Bourbon casks and specially shaved, toasted and re-charred red wine barriques.
The whisky, which recently took Gold at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition and two stars at the Great Taste Awards, has benefitted from a number of production techniques often considered too costly or inefficient in the wider whisky industry. In particular, the distillery is committed to using only barley grown on local farms in the Cotswolds, and each bottle lists the barley variety, harvest year and farm it was grown on.
The distillery began production of its whisky and gin in 2014 at its small site in Stourton near Shipston-on-Stour. The original business plan was for small-scale production to sell locally but the gin soon won awards and listings in the UK and abroad, and the small company has grown rapidly ever since.
Dan Szor, founder and CEO of Cotswolds Distillery, said “We are delighted that Waitrose & Partners has chosen to list Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky so widely – it’s a wonderful statement of belief in both our distillery and in the wider ‘world whisky’ category. We are passionate about showing consumers that small distilleries like ours, outside the traditional whisky heartlands, are committed to a production ethos that champions the highest quality local ingredients and distilling methods that are driven by quality over cost. It’s painstaking work but we feel we’re really raising the bar, so we’re very proud to show off the incredible results you can achieve, even as a brand-new distillery.”
The listing of the Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky coincides with an expansion of Waitrose & Partners’ listing of the distillery’s award-winning Cotswolds Dry Gin. The gin was first listed as part of the retailer’s regional producers scheme, and has been available at 10 stores in and around the Cotswolds area since July 2017
Featuring lavender grown locally to the distillery, the gin was named Best London Dry in the World Gin Awards 2016 and secured the top Gold Outstanding medal in the IWSC the following year.
The readers of Condé Nast Traveler have rated their top hotels in the United Kingdom, outside of London, and included three from the Cotswolds in their top 10.
The Lygon Arms in Broadway was highest ranked at number three with The Gainsborough Bath Spa (4th) and Barnsley House near Cirencester (7th).
Click HERE to see the top 10.
LITTLE OAK VINEYARD SIEGERREDE 2016
A surprisingly dry wine produced from grapes on Siegerrebe vines that are most suited to the climate in England.
Little Oak Vineyard, located near Chipping Campden, was started by Steve Wilson and first planted in 2006 with 400 Siegerrebe vines. 2016 was their best year to date with fantastic quality grapes, a great yield and almost perfect sugar and acidity readings on the days the grapes were harvested.
THE EBRINGTON ARMS
For over a decade, The Ebrington Arms has been one of the most highly regarded pubs in the Cotswolds. In July 2017, the pub was crowned as the UK's number one village pub by The Times in 2017, as well as featuring their Top 30 UK Pubs for 2019. They have held 2 AA Rosettes for 8 consecutive years and were awarded the County's Dining Pub of the Year 2019 in The Good Pub Guide.
As well as being a great place to eat it is also a wonderful place to stay with five luxury ensuite rooms.
They are also home to the Yubbington Brewing Company that produces some wonderful home-brewed craft ales.
Kuba Winkowski, head chef at the Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote, has been crowned the Craft Guild’s National Chef of the Year at The Restaurant Show at Olympia in London.
Following in the footsteps of some of the industry's biggest names such as Gordon Ramsay, Winkowski wowed the judges with his Lobster starter, Yorkshire grouse main and sticky toffee with lemon, clotted cream dessert.
The award, judged by many of the UK's top chefs including Tom Kerridge and Clare Smyth, was based on theirindividual performance on the day, as they create their three-course menu in two hours in front of a live audience.
The final 25 restaurants in The Times' Critics Top 100 have been announced this morning and three more from the Cotswolds have made the list.
The list sees critics Marina O’Loughlin and Giles Coren choosing their favourites from all over the UK.
The Bell at Sapperton
Cracking pub in a proper quiet little Gloucestershire village. Been going on and off for years. Used to love picnics on a rug in the front garden, but they have tables now (posh!). Most recently thrilled by a burrata and heritage-tomato salad, flat-iron chimichurri chicken, top-flight kids’ burgers and pints of Pliny the Elderflower. Get it? Pliny the . . . oh, go away.
Simpsons Fish and Chips, Cheltenham
This former Chippy of the Year squats on a corner off the main road looking more than anything like a bicycle shop or carwash. There’s a large, airy takeaway section on the right-hand side and, on the left, a big, bright, wonderfully fresh-smelling eat-in restaurant, which had a Union Jack-themed refurb recently but kept a bit of an American diner feel along with its wooden floorboards and black and white tiles, and retained just enough nautical tat (mermaids, anchors) to remind us exactly where we are. The incredibly helpful and smiley service staff wear 1950s-style waitress outfits, but black for a bit of chic, with red hairbands — all of which is comforting to the relatively elderly clientele I found at noon on a Saturday taking advantage of the £8.50 “senior meal” deal. Which shows the place feels just as strong a sense of responsibility for the local human community as it does for the maritime one, everything here being not just accredited but warmly endorsed and indeed positively frothed over by the Marine Stewardship Council. The food is good and cheap (for fish). Between us, my wife and two small children put away a half portion of battered scampi (£4), langoustine (£5) and king prawns (£5) in which the scampi and langoustine were kept admirably pink and translucent by the batter, but the prawns could have done with removal of the pooey digestive tract. Then also two slices of battered halloumi (£3 — fluffy, salty), a £2 bowl of frickles (fried, battered pickles — very modern), a haddock (£9) and, from the kids’ menu, some fish bites and a sausage.
The Old Butcher’s, Stow on the Wold
Well-established fish restaurant on the high street of this beautiful, friendly, much-maligned-by-urban-snobs Cotswold market town with young staff, great produce and a very modern shabby chic vibe. I like to sit outside at the front scoffing lobster and chips or scallops with seaweed butter or a truncheon of char-grilled monkfish with a bottle of picpoul, gazing at the view down the hill. They give you blankets when the weather turns cold. It’s the best.
You can see all of the final 25 restaurants by following the link below and the rest of the list on our previous blog post.
You might have seen in this weekend's edition of The Times where critics Giles Coren and Marina O’Loughlin chose their top 100 eating spots in the UK.
Four of Giles' choices are right here in the Cotswolds and we have listed them below with the extract from The Times.
The Hare, Milton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire
Lovely pub where the star is the daily changing fish board, from which I’ve had excellent gravlax of Scottish salmon with roasted beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche, brilliantly crisp and clean monkfish cheeks breaded and deep-fried with a marvellous tartare sauce, and a stunningly good fillet of black bream, huge, crisped on the skin side, perfectly sweet and moist, on top of a big tangle of crab linguine. It could easily have fed two and at £16.50 puts London portions to shame.
The Bell Inn, Langford, Oxfordshire
Best little food pub in the world? Probably. They put a pizza oven in mostly for the pizza, but blackened, crackling flatbread running with melty marrowfat and scattered with parsley fair blew me away — and when I rolled it up around some slices of the exquisite aged roasted sirloin and drizzled over it some dark, sticky gravy, I was in actual heaven. Walk it off in the graveyard next door — there’s an 8th-century rood relief on which the Christ appears to have enjoyed his lunch so much, his head has fallen off
The King’s Head, Bledington, Oxfordshire
Beautiful pub in a beautiful village with exceptional cooking and terrific staff. The best thing about it for me is the playground outside on the village green which also has acres of grass, a stream and bridges so that you can eat and drink all afternoon with the kids having a riot in plain sight. In summer an old-fashioned ice cream hut does roaring trade and if you’re lucky you can eat one while laughing at, sorry, intently watching a bit of morris dancing. The whole experience is rightfully one of legend in this part of Oxfordshire.
Russell’s Fish and Chips, Broadway, Worcestershire
Call it twee, gentrified, whatever words you feel the need to use when denigrating a rural market town that has decided not to be depressing and horrid, but I like Broadway. And this excellent modern chip shop is one of the best things in it. There are restrained quantities of jolly nautical tat, blackboards revealing daily specials and a separate board that announced, “The potatoes we are chipping are marfona” — not a variety I know, but I am quite certain that anywhere offering to name your chip potato variety will probably feed you very nicely. And it did. This is absolutely top-quality fish and chips, with haddock and cod offered, as well as plaice either breaded or grilled, whole tail scampi, fish cakes or fish finger sandwich with fantastic chips (dry, firm, nutty), a paper pot of good tartare, smashed peas and a lemon wedge. A big old-school prawn cocktail for £4.95 was also beautifully done.
The list is in two installments on the Times website. Luckily if you sign up, you get 2 articles free. You can find them below.
First Installment - www.thetimes.co.uk/article/best-places-to-eat-in-the-uk-8gzjdb9f9
Second Installment - www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/best-places-to-eat-in-the-uk-our-critics-reveal-their-favourite-restaurants-rv8dgvczs
With the arrival of autumn, it's great to see Hedgerow Gin is back in stock at The Cotswolds Distillery.
Cotswolds Hedgerow Gin is a take on a sloe gin made with locally foraged fruit and Cotswolds Dry Gin.
It is a rich and full bodied gin and perfect on its own, mixed with champagne or in a hot drink.
We are used to seeing Broadway Tower at 65 feet but sculptor Willard Wigan MBE has reduced the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment, into a tiny mico-sculpture set in the eye of a needle.
What's more incredible is that the sculpture is made of miniscule grains of stone taken from the tower and is complete with windows, turrets and a flagpole.
Willard works from memory and was able to memorise the tower's form after looking at and image and it took him a further four weeks to produce.
He was first introduced to Broadway when he opened an exhibition of his work at Broadway Museum and Art Gallery. He was so taken with the village that he decided to create its iconic tower as his latest project.
The tower micro-sculpture is currently on display at Broadway Luxury gallery in Broadway and an exhibition of Willard’s other work can be found at Broadway Museum and Art Gallery.
MOSCATEL MERSEGUERA 2016 TRAGOLARGO BLANCO
A white wine from Alicante in South East Spain which is amazingly orange in colour! This is due to “skin-contact” where the skin is in contact with the wine for a short amount of time meaning the tannins and characteristics of the skin are partially displayed, similar to how red wine is made. Flavour wise you can expect a dry beginning (due to the skin-contact) followed by a beautiful, almost orange nectar flavour due to the Moscatel grape. A very well balanced wine and a must for anybody wanting to try something new!
THE PLOUGH AT COLD ASTON
The Plough Inn Cold Aston is a beautiful Cotswold pub recently taken over by husband and wife team Thomas & Josie Hughes. Expect a warm welcome as soon as you walk in the door (either by the roaring fire or the smiles of the staff) in this traditional 17th Century Pub. Grab a drink at the bar and choose from a great selection of craft beers, real ales, wines & spirits. Or, if you are feeling hungry grab a table and enjoy anything from a bar snack to a full three course meal. The menu changes with the seasons but always focuses on fresh, high quality and local ingredients
With summer now leaving us for another year, some of you are probably already craving a bit of après-ski. Well guess what?, you can now enjoy a little bit of Courchevel in the Cotswolds!
From 12th November to 21st December, The Dormy House in Broadway have created 'Piste at The Potting Shed", a new pop-up Alpine dining cabin.
Within its wooden walls, groups of up to 30 can feast on three courses of authentic Swiss flavours – including a classic cheese fondue and roast pork loin with rösti and a hot G&T on arrival, as well as their own dedicated bar and a music system.
Check out www.dormyhouse.co.uk/occasions/piste-at-the-potting-shed for more information and to book!
‘On the final day of 2017, I had not just the best mouthful of the year, but the best mouthful of my life’ claimed Giles Coren of a pub that had only been back open for five weeks after a couple of years in the wilderness. It was high praise indeed and something that appears on flyers on each table, but was also a lot of pressure for the new bosses Tom Noest and Peter Creed who's covers grew from twenty a night to over sixty with visitors looking for their 'mouthful of a lifetime'.
The pub is small and snug with painted walls, exposed beams and stone, mismatched art and furniture and flagstones throughout. We headed to the bar for a pre-dinner drink and discovered Wood Brothers Gin for the first time, created by brothers Ed and Charlie on a farm just down the road. We sat at a barrel that doubles as a table and enjoyed some Padron Peppers and Rock Salt before moving into the dining room.
The menu mixes modern and classic with simple and seasonal and includes an abundance of dishes large and small. The beautifully blistered garlic, parsley and bone marrow flat bread is delivered straight from the pizza oven, that you catch a glimpse of every time the kitchen door opens, is a must and is perfect for sharing. This was followed by Salt Cod Fritters and Buttermilk Fried Chicken to officially start although we had definitely started two courses ago. Both were served with aioli, the latter with a choice of garlic or chilli. We opted for chilli which generated a kick of heat in every bite.
The mains soon followed (Lamb Neck Fillet and Rainbow Chard and the Cheese Burger and fries) along with the extensive wine list that was heavily French and European with the addition of a few from the New World, a red, two whites and a sparkling from the Poulton Hill Estate that's just 20 minutes away and one from Lebanon. While she opted for a large glass of red which arrived in a carafe, I went for Bobby's Beer that was on tap behind the bar.
I had had my eye on the Lamb Neck Fillet while looking at the sample menu a few days in advance of our visit. It didn't disappoint, in fact, it was possibly the best dish I have eaten this year. The pink tender meat with an incredible salty crumb exploding with garlic and anchovy and the beautifully cooked chard blew me away. A dish you would expect to find at over £20 in most other places was just £14. The side of mash I ordered worked very well too. The Cheese Burger was recommended by Pete. A meal once looked upon as dull and pointless is now a mainstay on every good menu. The meat in this one perfectly cooked, the sauce was similar to what you might find in a Big Mac (completely intentional as Pete's favourite burger) yet nicer and it arrived under an avalanche of fries.
There wasn't enough room for pudding but it was hard to resist the Chocolate Nemesis. There were Maldon Salt flakes sprinkled on top and crème fraîche on the side. It was as rich as its name suggests and however much you will try not finish it, the saltiness and sweetness will make sure you do.
The pub has only been open for 10 months but you would never know it. They have just finished eight stylish newly renovated rooms, all with king size double beds and en-suite walk in showers and again you will be shocked at the prices that start from just over £70 a night B&B. Their ethos is all about offering people good food, good wine, good beer and a good experience and they do it in droves. The manner in which they cater for everyone; young and old, local and further afield and deliver it with such quality, ease and value is simply outstanding.
Summer is almost up and autumn is well and truly on its way, however, that doesn't mean that our cocktail shakers should be put away. The Cotswolds Distillery's Head of Mixology Ollie Morris has created some amazing cocktails for all seasons. We have picked an awesome dessert cocktail that showcases sweet and tart autumn delights with a delicious crumble finish.
45ml Cotswolds Dry Gin
15ml Cinnamon Liqueur
12.5ml Lime juice
50ml Apple Juice
8ml Orgeat (almond syrup)
HOW TO CREATE
Rim the martini glass with oat crumble. Muddle 8 blackberries in the Boston tin, fill with ice and add all the other ingredients. Shake and strain into a martini glass and serve.
Crumble rim, apple & blackberry
The Ebrington Arms near Chipping Campden has scooped yet another award to add to their collection.
They have been awarded ‘County Dining Pub of the Year 2019’ by The Good Pub Guide beating off strong competition from over a thousand pubs across the whole of Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, one of the UK’s favourite foodie areas.
The pub has held two AA rosettes for 9 consecutive years and was voted Number 1 Village Inn by The Times in 2017
JEAN PAUL THEVENET MORGON 'LE CLACHET' 2015 BEAUJOLAIS
Jean-Paul Thévenet is one of the winemakers responsible for bringing greatness back to
Beaujolais. He is very old school in his winemaking philosophy and makes this wine from 70
year-old vines in the Morgon area, which are cultivated organically and yield very little fruit.
The grapes are fermented with natural yeasts without the addition of any sulphur dioxide.
After fermentation Thévenet ages the wine for eight months in used oak barrels that he gets
from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti before being bottled without filtration.
Bursting with aromas of bright red fruit which explode on the palate, the wine has a
wonderful brine-like quality and a long cooling mineral finish. This is what Beaujolais is really
THE GRAPE ESCAPE
The Grape Escape is a wine bar in Cheltenham offering a selection of over 250 labels and a
weekly changing list of wines available by the glass. The bar is run by wine-loving husband
and wife team Ant and Zo who's passion is infectious and service is impeccable.
There are regular events including wine tasting, quizzes as well as some amazing daily offers. On the first Monday of every month they host a wine tasting event, giving you the chance to try some fine wines from all over the world. The tastings are all themed and might cover a specific region, grape variety or even a single producer.
If you love chocolate truffles you will definitely love Costello + Hellerstein. We received a box this week and they are the best we have ever had. What's better still is the fact that they are handmade here in the Cotswolds using the finest ingredients.
So let's get to the crux, Costello + Hellerstein need your help. They really want to expand and share their chocolate to more and more chocolate lovers out there and have created a crowdfunding page where you can support them and get some chocolate (and other things but chocolate is the most important) in return.
Their aim is to raise £40,000. That's a lot of chocolate and enough to turn their dream into a reality. You can find out what they need it for by clicking HERE and we beg you to give generously. Like we said, these are best truffles you will ever try and a company us Cotswoldians should be very proud of!
There are a few things in life that I'm very sceptical about and chain pubs are pretty high up on my list.
The Frogmill, which is now owned by Brakspear, has recently undergone a huge renovation which has transformed what was a tired country inn into a beautiful looking pub with 28 boutique rooms. The patio is one of the best places to sink a drink in the sunshine, I for one enjoyed a few afternoons on the sun loungers during the recent heatwave.
My only other experiences of Brakspear establishments have been The Porch House and The Sheep, both in Stow on the Wold. The food is always pretty good but the service in both can be a little trying to say the least so I was intrigued (slightly concerned) to see what it would be like at The Frogmill.
We were greeted three times by three different members of staff, the third of which showed us to our table in the restaurant that was full to the brim which is very good for a Thursday. We shouldn't ignore the fact that it took nearly an hour for our food order to be taken, however, I would hazard a guess that it was delaying tactics enabling the kitchen to cope. This doesn't really bother me as I'm out for the evening and would always much prefer to be sat in a restaurant that's buzzing than an empty one with no atmosphere.
Our starters arrived, Smoked King Scallops with summer pea velouté, pancetta and nasturtium oil (£11.95) and Summer Lobster Ceviche, BBQ’d watermelon, sweetcorn & jalapeño succotash (£14.50). Both were simply delicious and were generous in size. The scallops were the fattest juiciest we've had away from the coast and the freshness of the BBQ's fruit with the lobster was truly delightful.
All day leading up to the meal I was craving a good chunk of meat. Luckily there is an extensive grill menu that includes three steaks, whisky glazed pork belly ribs, tuna, lobster and the 16oz pork tomahawk (£16.50) that we ordered along with a medium-rare (it arrived with a stick in it telling us it was medium-rare too just in case we had forgotten what we ordered) 8oz ribeye steak (£20). None of the dishes from the grill menu come with any sides which, as I have mentioned before, is a pet hate of mine. The menu recommends three sides between two people but two was enough. There are heaps to choose from and we opted for Lobster Bisque Macaroni Cheese (£6.50) and some incredible Parmesan & Truffle fries (£5). The steak was perfectly cooked and you could tell that it was a real quality piece of meat, as was the pork. Both were seasoned well and the sides, and a pot of Béarnaise sauce, worked really well and again were generous in size.
Like with the meat craving, I really fancied some cheese too so followed this with The Frogmill Cheeseboard (£8) which included a blue, a creamy goats cheese, a cheddar, some wonderful crab apple jelly and crackers.
The food was faultless. The service was really good and the staff all extremely attentive and wonderfully friendly hosts. There were a few teething problems as you would expect but nothing major and certainly nothing that couldn't easily be ironed out quickly.
What Brakspear have done to The Frogmill is truly outstanding. They have created a country inn for all seasons that has the potential of becoming one of the most popular venues in the Cotswolds.
The Halfway House in Kineton near Guiting Power has created a range of Sunday Roast Burgers. However, these are no ordinary burgers. The usual bread bun has been replaced by Yorkshire Puddings and they are served with roast potatoes and a pot of thick gravy for dipping.
Which one would you choose?
To book a table at The Halfway House, please call 01451 850344
If you weren't at The Big Feastival this weekend then you were really missing out. As well as some great music and awesome entertainment, it also boasts arguably the best line-up of street foodies at any festival in the UK.
We have scoured Instagram to find you the best food pics from this year's festival that will make your stomach rumble with envy if you missed out!
If you follow our Instagram you will see that I spend many weekend mornings eating breakfast or brunch at The Hive in Stow on the Wold.
The breakfast/brunch menu is small but full of delicious dishes including one of my favourite plates of food at the moment- smashed avocado, chilli jam, poached eggs and bacon (for an extra £2) on sourdough. The chilli jam under the avo is a massive game changer and something that I would never had naturally added to my breakfast. It also benefits from the additional bacon.
It's actually that good that I recreated it at home using some of my favourite producers and adding a few extra touches including adding some Chilli Rapeseed Oil to the avocado.
Here's what I used.
Hobbs House Sourdough
Pot of What Chilli Jam
The Cotswold Farmer Bacon
Cotswold Gold Chilli Oil
VIOGNIER 2016 DOMAINE VEDILHAM
Sourced from the vineyards of Domaine de Vedilhan in the Narbonne region of southern France.
The nose of peaches, apricots and pears herald the arrival of intensely concentrate fruit flavours on the palate, with a hint of zestiness giving extra complexity. Through full flavour and weight, the wine remains very balanced and textural with a clean, fresh finish – served chilled.
THE LYGON WINE BAR
The Lygon Wine Bar is a relaxed wine bar with a focus on Italian and European Wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. If you're popping in for a glass and are feeling a little peckish, enjoy a selection of Italian bites and casual dishes. In the heart of the village of Broadway, they've captured the Cotswolds charm in our unique venue that is both stylish and contemporary.